Woodslore and Ultralight

Mors Kochanski is popular for saying, “The more you know, the less you need.” In the world of ultralight, no saying could be more true. Ultralight is the very essence of that statement.

In the world of Ultralight the idea is to do more with less. Every item is specific yet serves multiple functions. There is no “two is one” mentality. Ultralighters take an embracing approach to mother nature, rather than fear her. They respect what she throws their way.

For many years I’ve been an ultralighter, though at times it may seem like I wasn’t, mainly because I looked like a poster child for bushcrafting. For me it was extremely easy to adopt ultralight philosophies, only because I had a healthy dose of woods knowledge. I don’t mean bushcrafting skills, rather just plain old woodslore.


Archaic : something that is taught : lesson

2: something that is learned:

a : knowledge gained through study or experience

  • the lore of religious architecture

b : traditional knowledge or belief

  • tribal lore

3: a particular body of knowledge or tradition

In the areas I frequent, I am intimately familiar with how weather affects the area. I am familiar with animal habits. I can tell you cardinal directions just by glancing at my watch and looking at a shadow of a plant or rock (I don’t need nor do I carry a compass). I can tell if there is water nearby just by the kind of vegetation growing. I can tell if it’s going to be a colder night just by looking at the sky. I know not to camp lower in ravines, because it’s colder. I know to camp in southern facing areas, because it is warmer. I know camping next to water sources, though beautiful it may look, is asking for mosquitoes bothering me. I don’t mind kangaroo mice hopping over me at night (it’s actually comical). The list goes on, but you get the point.

Not to make it sound like I idolize or perform ritualistic adulations (I don’t), but when I look at Mors, though he is older and slower, I see a man who is every bit in tune with his surroundings. There is almost an eerie sense of calmness and naturalness when he’s outdoors. That is something that is gained through his many years outdoors. There are many like him, but he is the one most people would recognize today. In fact, the further we go back in history, the more prolific people like Mors would be.

Today, and the more we move into the future, people have exchanged woodslore for gizmos and gadgets. At the same time, however, fear of the outdoors has risen. People are coddled by their urban environments and office jobs. Often times their only exposure to the outdoors is television, movies, and the internet. Sadly, the portrayal of the outdoors, through those various mediums, only helps increase their anxieties, as those outlets most often help suggest the outdoors is to be feared. As a result, when people today attempt to go into the outdoors, they do so with a level of fear instilled by others perception of the outdoors and not based on their own experiences.

So, is ultralight for everyone? The answer is NO it is not. In fact, one could argue ultralight was better suited for people of yesteryear who had a better relation with mother nature than the pseudo-relationship many have today. The good thing is, however, anyone willing to get out and learn to get comfortable with mother nature without fearing her can easily go to ultralight. Only by being exposed to the outdoors can one gain confidence and lose fear of the outdoor—That and staying away from survivalists.

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